Pennsylvania takes driving under the influence seriously. The penalties for even a first-time offense can be severe. It’s important to know the potential consequences of a DUI conviction and what you can do to help prepare for your defense.
Three tiers of DUI charges
Pennsylvania divides DUI charges into three tiers:
- General impairment
- High rate
- Highest rate
The level a person is charged at depends on their blood alcohol concentration (BAC). A BAC between .08 and .10 will result in a general impairment charge. A BAC between .10 and .159 will result in a high rate charge. A BAC of .160 or greater will lead to the highest rate charge.
As you can probably guess, the potential penalties increase as the tiers go higher. For example:
- General impairment: Up to six months probation, a $300 fine, mandatory DUI classes, and possible court-ordered drug and alcohol rehabilitation.
- High rate: 48-hour jail term, six months of parole, a one-year driver’s license suspension, a minimum fine of $500 and a maximum fine of $5,000, possible court-ordered drug and alcohol rehabilitation.
- Highest rate: 72-hour jail term, six months of parole, a one-year driver’s license suspension, a minimum fine of $1,000, and a maximum fine of $5,000, possible court-ordered drug and alcohol rehabilitation.
These are Pennsylvania’s DUI penalties in a nutshell. Of course, there are some variations depending on the circumstances surrounding the charge. For example, if you refuse to take a breathalyzer test, you can be charged with a general impairment DUI. However, the potential penalties will be the same as those under the highest rate charge.
It’s also important to note that DUI charges are “stacking” offenses. In other words, if you have previous convictions for DUI, you will face harsher penalties. You may even face felony charges. You should always discuss your criminal defense options with a skilled legal professional. It may be possible to have your charges dismissed or reduced. Alternative sentencing options may also be available.